Almanack Contributor Shane Foye

Shane Foye

Shane Foye is an entomologist volunteering with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County Agriculture Program. Learn more about Shane and the on-farm projects he's working on at the CCE Essex Agriculture page:

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

This fruitworm is the enemy of cranberry farmers

For cranberry farmers, autumn brings falling leaves and rising hopes. Family-owned operations, such as Deer River Cranberry Farm in Brasher Falls, cultivate their vines in meticulously manicured marshes. Droplets descended from irrigation spigots glisten atop entangled mats of waxy, evergreen vines, forming a coruscant carpet. Harvest season begins in mid-September, and is well underway by early November.

Most cranberry varieties produce fruit every other year. To harvest the crop, some farmers flood their typically well-drained bogs. The hollow, red berries rise above their short canopy. Collecting tools include buoyed nets, or water reels, which corral fruit for a mechanical harvester. Berries are then sent careening down a series of steps, with the roundest, plumpest, highest quality fruit tumbling the farthest.

The fierce, firetruck red aesthetic of a Demoranville berry contrasts sharply with the mottled, red-and-white complexion of a Mullica Queen, but both must pass the test. Wizened, infested, or misshapen products that aren’t firm enough to sufficiently bounce will be discarded, along with the farmer’s hope for an unblemished crop.

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Netwing beetles: Beautiful and toxic to predators

With over 350,000 described species, the beetles are insects with many different attributes. The scientific name for the beetles, Coleoptera, is based on the Greek word “koleopteros,” meaning sheathed wing. Beetles in the Adirondack region show that this sheath can take a variety of forms.

The outer pair of wings located on a beetle is known as the elytra. For the ironclad beetles, the elytra are so hard that some of these specimens can resist being run over by cars. Ironclad beetles native to New York tend to be small, brown denizens of rotting trees. The drab hardness of ironclad beetles contrasts sharply with the flexible, flashy wings found on net-winged beetles. There are several species of net-winged beetles in New York, including the banded net-winged beetle Calopteron discrepans Newman (Coleoptera: Lycidae), the reticulated net-winged beetle Calopteron reticulatum Fabricius (Coleoptera, Lycidae), and the end band net-winged beetle Calopteron terminale Say (Coleoptera, Lycidae), which is shown in the picture. The transverse depression across the wings, combined with the equal heights of its wing ridges, are the diagnostic features of the end band net-winged beetle.

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